Retrieval unit locates 13 sacks containing a total of 550 kg. of explosives.
By YAAKOV KATZPublished: MAY 9, 2006 15:00Advertisement
An attempt to smuggle half-a-ton of high-quality explosives into the Gaza Strip from Egypt was thwarted on Independence Day by navy warships patrolling the Mediterranean Sea off the Gaza coast, it was released for publication on Tuesday.
A Navy warship patrolling the waters off the Gaza Strip on May 4, spotted a suspicious shipping boat crossing into Israel from Egypt. The Davor navy ship called out to the Palestinian boat to stop but when the boat attempted to evade the navy patrol, soldiers opened fire. The Palestinian boat then hid behind another fishing boat, and the crew began to heave large sacks into the water.
The navy commander decided not to pursue the boat and ceased fire out of fear that innocent Palestinian fisherman in the vicinity would be harmed. The fishing boat then slipped away into a crowd of hundreds of other Palestinian craft.
Two days ago, the navy sent an underwater retrieval unit to inspect the sacks' contents. A robot was sent down, and located 13 sacks at a depth of 30 meters containing high-quality explosives that had been scavenged, Maj. Oren Raba head of the navy underwater retrieval unit said, from dismantled mines in the Sinai.
Security officials recently said that the bombs used in the latest Al Qaida attacks in Dahab, Sinai were also constructed from explosives taken from mines left over from previous Israeli-Egyptian wars.
Had the explosives reached their destination, they would have been used, Commander of the Ashdod Naval Base Col. Yoram Lex said, to manufacture Kassam rockets employed in Palestinian attacks against Israeli targets.
"This smuggling attempt was significant, since the high-quality explosives discovered could have been used in devastating terror attacks against Israel." Lex told The Jerusalem Post as he fielded questions at a press conference at the Ashdod Naval Base. The Palestinians in Gaza, a senior IDF officer added, had recently encountered a shortage in explosives and the TNT shipment was supposed to re-supply the local terror organizations.
Since Israel's disengagement from the Gaza Strip in August 2005, the Israel Navy has thwarted three attempts to smuggle explosives and weapons into Gaza, as well as an attempt to detonate a bomb near an Israeli warship.
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